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To assess whether postal questionnaires, used as a local initiative, were useful in identifying carer depression allowing early support for community-dwelling carers of older adults with mental health needs. the Geriatric Depression Scale and a questionnaire collecting information on the carer's circumstances were sent to carers of consecutive patients routinely referred to a community mental health team for older adults in south London. Rates of carer depression between postal questionnaire responders and non-responders were compared.
The response rate to the postal questionnaires (33%) was similar to that observed in other postal studies; 42% of responders had depression compared with only 4.6% of non-responders.
Pre-contact postal questionnaires may present a simple method of enhancing early detection of carer depression for minimal economic outlay.
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